From the opening pages, with lines like “we were piles of skin laundry blending into a world of pales and fogs,” debut author Young transports readers into a world somehow familiar and simultaneously unlike any they have ever experienced.
Two balloon people inhale and exhale each other’s essences, become bonded, and create Baby. Baby’s love brings Pet into the family, an animal made from a different kind of balloon. Tragically, Pet is deflating rapidly. Baby’s parents search desperately for a cure. In this futile process, they are pulled away from each other and from Baby until Baby’s heartbreak brings everyone back together. The language of this story is utterly surreal, but its feelings are recognizable and palpable—bright love, devastating grief, and fragile hope. Debut illustrator Sobieski renders the dreamscape visible with equally poetic illustrations. Splashy watercolors and the ample use of purple and dark green create an otherworldly environment in which the characters experience completely identifiable emotions. Gender isn’t central to the story, but it’s worth noting that Young deliberately avoids gender binaries by writing in the first person and using the third person “they” to refer to the narrator’s partner. This supremely tender book is one that readers will return to again and again, if they can bear it, finding new meaning with each reading and in each new stage of life.
Breathtakingly original. (Picture book. 4-11)